Once upon a time in a small village in rural China, there lived an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day, his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. The farmer simply replied, “Maybe.”
The next morning, the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, got thrown off, and broke his leg. Again, the neighbors came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after that, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army to fight in a war. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
The story illustrates the wisdom of understanding that life is full of unpredictable events, and that what may seem good or bad in the moment might turn out to be the opposite in the long run. The key takeaway is not to be too quick to judge events as strictly good or bad, but to maintain equanimity regardless of circumstances. The farmer in this story embodies the philosophy of stoicism and the understanding that life is filled with ups and downs. The “maybe” response suggests the open-mindedness and nonjudgmental perspective towards life’s vicissitudes.